“Besides, there are additional benefits to regulating the quantity for each shipment. Firstly, we guarantee that it would not disrupt the market that much. Secondly, we secure a foothold for ourselves in the market. It’s akin to declaring to the rest of the country that you can only get Southsea Huanghuali from us, and that our supply will be released regularly in limited quantities. This essentially reminds the buyers who exactly they’re receiving their products from. After all, it’s not easy for people like us to reach out to buyers directly.”
“Moving onto the proposal for select partners. We’re in the business for the long haul. And as far as that is concerned, everything is about establishing an identity and status. Looking for a new partner for collaboration each time would be a hassle. Ideally, we want to establish a healthy trade relationship with a few good partners. After all, it’s impossible for a single entity to monopolize all of our supply of wood. Furthermore, as far as I’m aware, it takes quite some time for a company to realize their profits in the furniture market. Otherwise, there’s simply no reason why a raw materials company can’t process and sell the goods on their own. Most of these production companies sell off their raw materials without processing them because they want a quick turnaround in cash. After all, liquidity in assets always beats having illiquid stocks in hand.”
He paused for a moment, and then sighed, “It’s impossible to bungle the sale of Southsea Huanghuali furniture. However, it can take anywhere between one to five years to sell off each batch of goods. One other consideration is that the high price of raw Southsea Huanghuali means that merchants won’t be able to take several batches of goods at any one time. They would have to sell it first before they can make another purchase from us again. Thus, it would be unrealistic for us to look to join up with only one partner exclusively.”
Qin Ye listened to Huang Liangchuan with great interest. When he last saw Huang Liangchuan, he was still the leader of the Radiant Sunset Support Group. But now, he was finally showing what he was truly capable of. But speaking of crouching tigers and hidden dragons, can the mortal realm truly hold a candle to Hell in this regard?
It’s a pity that Newton and the other Yin spirits have already been whisked away by Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. What a pain… Perhaps I should flip through wikipedia to see if any reputable people are passing on soon…
Qin Ye coughed dryly as he shook off the increasingly dark thoughts in his mind. Why does it feel like I’ve begun to look at living people with a different light ever since taking office in Hell?
Just then, he noticed that the room had suddenly become quiet. He nodded, “Your analysis thus far has been spot on. Do continue.”
Huang Liangchuan smiled, “We might still have to trouble Lord Qin to personally handle the affairs with the mortal realm.”
Qin Ye furrowed his brows. It just dawned on him that he would have to be the one fronting all communications with the mortal realm.
“Arti--...” “I’m not going.”
Two voices spoke at practically the same time. Qin Ye’s eyelids twitched uncontrollably, and he turned around whispered through gritted teeth, “Seriously… are you a roundworm living in my stomach? How could you give me such a curt and succinct response before I even ask my question?”
“I can even tell the kind of fart coming from your butt from the way you tilt your body.” Arthis rolled her eyes at him. Then, considerately salvaging what modicum of face the future Yanluo had remaining, she leaned over and whispered back, “I’m not free. How could you be asking me to run errands for you when I’ve not managed to secure my challenger rank yet? Besides, you’ll sooner or later have to learn to do these things on your own. You can’t appoint any Anitya Hellguards under your charge before you attain the rank of an Infernal Judge, and Anitya Hellguards are the only ones who can travel in the day. Or are you saying that you want me to be your errand girl every time?”
Then, without missing a beat, Arthis continued softly, “Furthermore, Hell will sooner or later be involved in international transactions which will involve you personally. After all, trade contracts will have to be personally endorsed by King Yanluo himself. You may as well take advantage of the present to hone your negotiation skills.”
Qin Ye’s temples throbbed violently, “Then what are you going to do?!”
“Attain the rank of challenger.” Arthis replied matter-of-factly.
“... I’ll give you three seconds to reconsider your response. I hope you realize the extent of the mistake you’ve made…”
Arthis grew silent, and then she probed somewhat hesitantly, “I… will be in charge of looking as best as I can?”
Qin Ye smiled sinisterly and shrank back to his seat. To the eyes of the other attendees in the meeting, this was a sign that the two high-level officials had just concluded their discussions. Yet little did they know that the ‘discussion’ was no different from two vipers snapping and biting at each other.
Arthis: How dare someone with a weak-ass face ask me to run errands for you?
Qin Ye: Pfft… you’re nothing but a freeloader living off me, and yet you dare reject my one simple request… Be careful I don’t betroth you to Ox-Head or Horse-Face one day!
He knew he couldn’t entrust this task to Arthis. Thus, he gathered his thoughts and tapped on the table with a frown on his face.
How am I supposed to head out?
“My lord… is there something troubling you?” Having noticed the expression on Qin Ye’s face, Huang Liangchuan asked hesitantly.
Qin Ye nodded, and responded after much deliberation, “I’m currently… located at the City of Salvation. The entire city is under strict military command and regimentation. Although I hold some form of special status in the city, a peculiar incident that occurred last night means that there’s simply no hope of leaving the city in the near future.”
Huang Liangchuan’s expressions turned ashen immediately.
There would always be some people in the world who enjoyed a life of privilege. Fairness had always been a concept that was relative.
For instance, someone like Huang Liangchuan would naturally know of matters that normal citizens didn’t.
He looked around, and then probed further, “The First Academy of Cultivators?”
Qin Ye rubbed his chin, “I’ll need an opportunity to speak with the representatives of the top merchants in the wood and furniture industry. Perhaps there may be an opportunity to leave the city in the near future, but the window of opportunity probably wouldn’t be any more than three days.”
After a protracted pause, Huang Liangchuan suggested an alternative, “How about the auction?”
“I recall you still have our treasures in your possession. There are several major auction houses in Cathay, and I can imagine you’ll sooner or later have to sell off these treasures at the auction houses. At that time, you can just tell the representatives of the auction house that you’ve got a stock of a hundred tons of Southsea Huanghuali on hand that you’re looking to liquidate, and someone would definitely come visit you right away. Furthermore, I can assure you that there won’t only be one party calling on you as soon as you spread the word! After all, information is worth far more than currency among the wealthy.”
Qin Ye’s eyes brightened, and he rubbed his chin thoughtfully, “And what if it’s auctioned off in public?”
In other words, auctioning off several hundred tons of Southsea Huanghuali once and for all.
“My lord.” Huang Liangchuan explained patiently, “Look at the forest of Southsea Huanghuali. It won’t be possible to cut them down all at once. Besides, what we’re looking for is a source of stable clientele, and… that would lay the foundation for the future.”
Qin Ye suddenly realized just what he was talking about.
Huang Liangchuan was truly deserving of his title as the glass magnate. He was shrewd, and everything was calculated to an exacting standard in preparation for the future. Sure, there may only be the Southsea Huanghuali in Hell right now, but who knew what would come up in the future?
Point to point transactions were always far more convenient than transacting on a semi-public forum like an auction house. Although the methods were rather old school, establishing such relations gave rise to greater stability as well. Others wouldn’t be able to seize or break into the market as easily.
“Guardian Auctions.” Gu Qing responded before Huang Liangchuan could even do so, “There are a total of ten large auction houses in Cathay. Guardian is number one, followed by Poly International, Rong Bao Auction, Duo Yun Xuan, Cathay International, Han Hai, Xiling Seal-Engravers’ Society, etc. Guardian Auctions is presently the largest one of them all, and they pride themselves in their world-class customer confidentiality. Incidentally, it is also the auction house located closest to Insignia Province. There are Guardian branch offices located in both Eastsea or Pearl River.”
He paused for a moment, “But Guardian Auctions runs solely on a membership system. If Lord Qin doesn’t have a membership with them, you might still be able to use my premium account.”
Qin Ye drew a deep breath.
It looks like the road to riches will start off at the auction house. But I’ll need time. Although being part of the First Academy of Cultivators has its benefits, there’s just too little time.
I’ll have to find a way to head out of the city at least once.
“Okay, I got it.” After several minutes’ of deliberation, Qin Ye confirmed that there was no better way of doing this. He stood up, and the rest hurriedly followed suit, “Everyone… I’ll get it done within half a year. I promise that I’ll bring back all the supplies as soon as possible. But before that time comes, I’ve got a few requests.”
His expressions turned solemn, “Firstly, Mr Gu shall be in charge of everything in my absence. Mr Gu, I’ll trouble you to do up a drawing design of Hell incorporating all buildings and submit it to me.”
“Secondly…” He looked at Huang Liangchuan and the others around, “Mr Huang, from today onwards, I’ll want you to gather some people under your charge and start making plans for a monetary system.”
“Ahh--... Yes!” Huang Liangchuan was momentarily shocked, but he quickly gathered himself and responded affirmatively. That said, his gaze was still filled with apprehension.
“There’s no need to be too nervous.” Qin Ye smiled faintly, “This is a mammoth task that I’m asking of you, and I don’t expect you to be able to get it done with just a handful of people under your charge either. I know that you’re not too familiar with the workings of a monetary system either, but you’re still far more proficient and astute than others who can’t make head or tail of this matter.”
Then, Qin Ye glanced around, “Everyone, please carry out your duties with diligence. I give you my word that your efforts will be repaid in due course.”
With that, both he and Arthis transformed into a cloud of Yin energy and vanished from Hell.
When he closed his eyes, it felt like the entire world was spinning around him. And when he opened them again, everything was dark - he was already back in the First Academy of Cultivators.
It was already night. A multitude of constellations filled the skies. He was lying in bed, and all of the appliances in his room were switched off. There was a slight chatter outside his door, as though a discussion were happening in the hallway. He glanced at his watch - it was 1 a.m.
“Are you certain that you’ll be able to find an opportunity to head out?” Arthis asked softly. Qin Ye stared at the ceiling and muttered back, “The only piece of good news right now is that I’m part of the Faculty of Combat. We’ll commence with actual combat training in one semester’s time. We’ll definitely be given the opportunity to head out at that time.”
Arthis chuckled softly, “There’s still one hundred and fifty days or so until then… are you sure your patience will hold out until then?”
“Although the division heads of Yin Construction didn’t say a word about this, have you considered what might happen to Hell if the population continues to grow? We’re talking about a whole new world, where everyone is idling about without a single care in the world. I can almost guarantee you that something will happen in the near future.” She added thoughtfully, “You might no longer be able to control them as soon as the population size exceeds a million…”
She wouldn’t make a move.
The future King Yanluo cannot mature in a controlled environment. He is like a flower that must be tempered by the bitter harshness of the winter.
Otherwise… how could he stand tall against the onslaught of the gods of other underworlds in future?
Qin Ye placed his hands on his chest and fidgeted with his fingers. He didn’t respond.
He didn’t have the patience to wait that long.
He had been searching desperately for a stable source of funds and resources for some time now. And now that he had finally found it, how could he possibly wait any longer? He simply couldn’t resist the urge to unlock the great reconstruction works of Hell and unleash its full potential!
There were currently the three daolords within and several gods of underworld outside that were covetously eyeing Hell’s presence. There was the Global Underworld Argosian Arts Festival, and - oh, that’s right - the Harken that was lying in wait right under their asses.
How could he possibly wait patiently any longer?
“Is there any way you can get me out of here without being detected?”
“Well, since there isn't, then why don’t we--... Eh?” Qin Ye blinked and sat up abruptly. This isn’t like Arthis! Since when was she that candid and forthright with me?
Arthis also sat up stiffly like an evil ghost with disheveled hair. Then, before he could grumble about the situation, Arthis continued, “But even if we could get out, what would we do?”
“You’re lecturing every alternate day. There’s no way of shirking those responsibilities of yours. Might I remind you that Zhou Xianlong isn’t an Anitya Hellguard. He’s a peak Infernal Judge - one that is stronger than even I am. Sure, you can slip into Hell undetected with the aid of King Yanluo’s Seal, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t notice your absence from the academy for a few days on end.”
“Let’s say you link up with the auction house. The process of your application, their review, and then their transmission of an invitation to you is going to take at least a quarter of a year. And let’s just say everything goes well on the day of the auction, and it takes another day for the merchants to come looking for you, and then negotiations go on for the next two days. Coupled with the travel time to and from the auction house… we’re talking about at least a week’s worth of time. Are you going to be absent from the First Academy of Cultivators for an entire week? Do you think Zhou Xianlong is an effigy that is only on display?”
She sighed wistfully, “It seems like you’ll either have to give up the benefits here at the First Academy of Cultivators, or alternatively bite the bullet and wait patiently for half a year.”
“This is a prison break - something that even I can’t be confident of succeeding in.”
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